UPDATE : 2019.12.13 FRI 09:50
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S. Korea ready to support Asia's second-largest theme park: minister

South Korea's finance minister said Thursday that the government will spare no effort for the completion of a multi-billion-dollar project to build Asia's second-largest theme park in the country.

South Korean retail giant Shinsegae is set to break ground for the 4.57 trillion-won (US$3.8 billion) project to build a theme park in Hwaseong, about 45 kilometers southwest of Seoul, in 2021, with an initial opening in 2026 and the full opening in 2031.

The project on a 4.2-square-kilometer plot of land -- slightly larger than Central Park in New York -- also involves the construction of five hotels, an 18-hole golf course and three shopping malls, including a premium outlet.

Shinsegae Property, a real estate unit of Shinsegae, has a 90 percent stake in the project and the rest is held by Shinsegae Engineering & Construction.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Shinsegae could directly hire about 15,000 people and the project could generate about 70.6 trillion won for the economy.

The investment "could give a big boost" to the South Korean economy, Hong said in a ceremony at the site of the theme park.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (2nd from L) and Chung Yong-jin (L), vice chairman of Shinsegae Group, look at a bird's-eye view of a theme park project in Hwaseong, about 45 kilometers south of Seoul, on Nov. 21, 2019, in this photo provided by the finance ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Hong said the theme park would attract South Korean and foreign tourists at a time when Asia's fourth-largest economy is pushing to further boost the tourism industry by capitalizing on K-pop.

K-pop -- which mostly features choreographed singing and dancing by boy or girl groups -- has gained ground in not only Asia but Latin America, Europe and the United States in recent years.

K-pop and the broader Korean Wave have resonated with young people around the world, burnishing South Korea's image as a cool country, home to K-pop phenomenon BTS and "Gangnam Style," South Korean rapper Psy's 2012 mega-hit song.

South Korea plans to connect the theme park to Yeouido -- South Korea's equivalent to New York's Wall Street -- by rail before 2026, which would cut travel time to about 30 to 40 minutes.

The proposed theme park would be Asia's second-largest after Shanghai Disneyland.

The theme park project has had a troubled history, floundering in 2012 and 2017.(Yonhap)

Cho kyung-hee  edt@koreapost.com

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